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Advice for e-mail marketing to China

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Question: What are the unique concerns of e-mail marketing to customers and prospects in China?

Answer: There are three primary considerations when it comes to e-mail marketing to customers and prospects in China: deployment, design and device. Despite the approximately 110 million Internet users in China, the growth of e-commerce still lags behind the West-thanks in part to the sheer size of the country as well as the lack of an online payment system that can handle credit card transactions safely and efficiently. Retailers, however, continue to establish operations in China and therefore continue to push goods and services through e-mail marketing efforts.

1) Deployment. No longer simply about getting "lost in translation," e-mail marketing campaigns have gotten much more complex. Successful global e-mail campaigns now involve customization at every point in the e-mail, from the subject line-certain messages that appear in an e-mail's subject line don't resonate globally-to the message that's contained within the e-mail. Both must take into account the specific cultural awareness of each country, which means that now, more than ever, marketers need to have a very clear understanding of what products and services work in each individual market.

2) Design. On the design side, styles in China are much richer than the clean lines often used in Western e-mail and Web site designs. Asian designers often incorporate many messages and graphics within an e-mail; in the West, however, users prefer much simpler, clearer messages. Even in Asian portal designs, the message will be incorporated into the design much higher up in the e-mail so that the reader receives the message instantly.

3) Device. The number of Chinese consumers who access the Internet via mobile devices trumps access via desktop more than 3 to 1. With this in mind, marketers must consider eCRM programs that connect via mobile devices as well as traditional e-mail.

Michael Koziol is exec VP, North America at nurun|ant farm interactive, a global interactive marketing agency.

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